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A.J. Green and Justin Houston as good as they seem, UGA beat writer says

Content provided by Swamp Things – Gators Blog.

Swamp Things’ blog exchange continues with the second of two Georgia beat writers. Our Bulldogs insight comes from Tim Tucker, who covers UGA for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Be sure to read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

1. How unhappy are Bulldogs fans with Mark Richt? Are they focused on the team’s poor start or its three-game win streak?
Not as unhappy as they were three weeks ago … and not as happy as they were three years ago. Opinions run from one extreme to the other, but my sense at the moment is that most Georgia fans still want to believe that Richt can and will do what is necessary to get the program back where he had it in, say, 2002 or 2005 or 2007. Of course,  the hot-seat gauge, or at least the public perception of it, probably will move sharply in one direction or another depending on what happens Saturday in Jacksonville.

2. What impact has A.J. Green had since returning from suspension?
He’s not the only factor, but he’s definitely the biggest factor in the offense’s improvement. Georgia has scored 40-plus points in its past three games — the first time in program history the Bulldogs have scored 40-plus in three consecutive SEC games. Green is obviously Georgia’s most dangerous playmaker, and the defensive attention he draws has  opened up other parts of the offense, particularly the running game.

3. Is LB Justin Houston, the league leader in sacks and second in tackles for a loss, as dominant as he seems on paper?
He certainly has been at times. And he seems to be getting better as the season goes along and he gains confidence in the 3-4 defense. He had  his best game last week at Kentucky (two sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one pass breakup, seven “quarterback hurries.”) Georgia has won the turnover battle by a combined 9-1 in its three-game winning streak, and Houston has played a big part in that.

4. How much concern does Georgia have about Florida’s struggling offense?
Players and coaches figure last week’s open date helped Florida get healthier on offense, and they also wonder what type of changes have been made offensively. Also, Richt points out that Florida’s past three games have been against what he insists are  three of the 10 best defenses in the nation (Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State). And from the experience of its own season, Georgia knows that offenses can turn things around quickly, particularly when key players return from injury or suspension. Georgia went through a stretch earlier this season where it averaged 14 points per game in three consecutive SEC losses, and now it has averaged 43 points per game in three consecutive SEC victories.

5. Do the Bulldogs sense this is two teams heading in different directions?
I think they actually see it as two teams that, despite both having had three-game SEC losing streaks, have reached this point of the season in similar situations – both needing a win Saturday to keep alive hopes of playing in the SEC title game.


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